Review of Monument Valley

monumentvalley

Ouch! I have just realized that it has been yonks since I last posted a video game review (third of June to be exact). Perhaps the anonymous reader who recently un-followed my blog is a gamer who tired of waiting for new content? Have I given up on gaming? Nope. I play on my consoles and handhelds every day, but I don’t like reviewing a title until I finish it. At the moment I am battling my way through two lengthy RPGs, which will take an age to complete as my current schedule limits me to just sixty minutes of daily gaming goodness.

THE VALLEY “HILLS ARE ALIVE”

To end the video game drought on this site, I decided to play a short but sweet mobile puzzler. Finally I use my tablet for something other than reading comics (if you are looking for graphic novel recommendations I endorse downloading Marvel’s hilarious Gwenpool books.) The brainteaser I decided to purchase (in case you suffer from an ailment that prevents the reading of titles) is Monument Valley. A sequel for this game came out two months ago, but I figured that starting with the original would be best. Like the babe from Sound of Music said – “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

Speaking of music, one of Monument Valley’s highlights would have to be its audio. The soothing tunes and sound effects are a perfect remedy for the stresses of office life. Now that I have finished the game whatever shall I do to unwind during lunch breaks? Guess I will have to go back to sniffing glue. Kidding! The Otaku Judge does not advocate solvent abuse. Inhaling adhesives may cause mental impairment, which would hinder your progress in Monument Valley. Despite wearing a pointy dunce cap, the protagonist of this adventure has to use her wits to advance past each stage.

M. C. ESCHER SIMULATOR

Princess Ida is the heroine who players must guide through a total of ten stages. The dainty monarch is trapped in the titular Monument Valley – a mysterious place constructed out of sacred geometry. With the aid of touch screen controls, players must find the hidden route leading to the level’s exit. To achieve this Ida will have to stand on panels and manipulate the isometric landscape. You have to think outside the box when forming paths, because the roads Ida travels are akin to Penrose Stairs (click here). When three-dimensional objects are represented in 2D the results sure can be funky.

A solo quest would feel quite sterile, but fear not because Ida encounters several entities during her pilgrimage. Phantoms that haunt the halls reveal titbits of lore about the structure you are navigating. Hostile bipedal avians will sometimes halt Ida’s march with a tirade of squawks. Thankfully not everyone you meet is so mean. A friendly golem makes an appearance, in some of the labyrinths, to assist Ida with overcoming certain obstacles. The golem is nothing more than a one-eyed pillar, but I still got attached to him. Who says that you can’t form bonds with inanimate objects? Rest in peace Weighted Companion Cube.

VERDICT

My rating for Monument Valley is four stars. I can see why this game won awards back in 2014. People often decry the quality of mobile gaming, but if you avoid the free to play garbage there are some real gems waiting to be found in the Apps Store larder. Monument Valley is an accessible puzzler that can be enjoyed regardless of your IQ. I am a complete blockhead and still managed to finish the game with little trouble. The well-crafted levels are designed in such a way that frustration is kept to a minimum. Despite the lack of challenge there is enough thinking involved that I felt satisfaction after sussing every conundrum.

Like I mentioned earlier, Monument Valley is a short but sweet experience. Some critics would say that it’s too short. I estimate that clearing the story took me between two to three hours. That’s fair when you consider that its current retail price is four quid. A fast food meal costs about the same and will last you a lot less, to put things into perspective. Quality over quantity is something we should all herald, especially in this age were everyone’s free time is at a premium. If you can think of other classics, which don’t require a Witcher 3 commitment to beat, let me know in the comments section below. Maybe I’ll check out your suggestion and not deprive the blog of gaming posts for another two months.